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Milan Tepić

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Milan Tepić

Milan Tepić
Monument to Milan Tepić at the street named after him in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Dedinje
Born (1957-01-26)26 January 1957
Komlenac, Yugoslavia
Died 29 September 1991(1991-09-29) (aged 34)
Bjelovar, Croatia
Allegiance SFR Yugoslavia
Service/branch Yugoslav People's Army Yugoslav People's Army
Years of service 1991
Rank Major
Battles/wars Battle of the Barracks
Awards Order of the People's Hero

Milan Tepić (Serbian Cyrillic: Милан Тепић, January 26, 1957 – September 29, 1991) was a Major in the Yugoslav People's Army. He is the last person that was awarded the Order of the National Hero of Yugoslavia.[1]

Bjelovar events

In July 1991, members of the Yugoslav People's Army, who were doing their military service in the barracks named "Božidar Adžija" in Bjelovar, came under siege by members of the Croatian newly formed army [ZNG]. Located in the barracks was the 265th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People's Army as well as the newly arrived recruits.[2]

Colonel Josip Tomšić, who defected from the Yugoslav People's Army to become the commander of the defense of Bjelovar, prepared an attack on the barracks, in which the remaining soldiers and officers, who have not fled to the other side remained, some of them along with their family members (some families remained outside, in the city). The barracks, without water and electricity for several days, was attacked by approx. 2,000 troops. During the fights the center of the city was targeted, both churches (Catholic and Orthodox) were damaged and several civilians were killed by shells. Majority of the fights took place in the near vincinity of the army barracks (Vojnović) where single tank T-55 destroyed almost all the houses in Visočina Matije Gupca street. The tank was destroyed later on and its crew killed. Also, most of that part of the city was damaged to a certain extent. Since the Yugoslav People's Army HQ did not send any help, brigade commander Colonel Rajko Kovačević ordered surrender and the disposal of weapons.[2]

Upon entering the barracks, the President of the Bjelovar Crisis Staff at the time, Jure Šimić, ordered the captured members of the Yugoslav People's Army to remove their upper clothing. He then segregated the Commander Rajko Kovačević along with his aides Miljko Vasić and the First Class Captain Dragiša Jovanović, took them 50 meters away and shot them.[2]

Tepić was in charge of the defense of the ammunition storage in the village of Hrgovljani just outside of Bjelovar, where large quantities of explosive devices were stored. On the 29th of September 1991, unwilling to leave the weapons to the enemy, Major Milan Tepić blew up the warehouse, sacrificing his own life in the process.

Serbian sources claim that more than 200 Croatian soldiers died in the explosion, but were declared MIA by the Croatian Army. At a certain point, before the detonation, the Yugoslav People's Army soldiers were ordered to withdraw from the main building to a safe distance. This order, issued by Major Tepić, was disobeyed by a conscript, Stojadin Mirković,[3] who opened suppressive fire at the enemy from an armored personnel carrier, until he was hit by an anti-tank missile.

Aftermath

Hero Milan Tepić's street sign in Belgrade

Major Milan Tepić was declared for National Hero of Yugoslavia. He is the last person that received this order.

Streets in Belgrade, Banja Luka, Kozarska Dubica [4] Vršac,[5] Zrenjanin,[6] Sremska Mitrovica[7] are named after him. There is also a monument of Milan Tepić in his street in Belgrade. One street in Novi Sad was also named after him until being changed in 2004.[8] Army of Republika Srpska introduced Order of Milan Tepić for bravery in Bosnian war [1].

Some Serbs link Tepić's act to Stevan Sinđelić, who did a similar act almost 200 years before during the First Serbian Uprising. On the other hand, Serbian columnist Teofil Pančić sees Tepić's fame as an "experiment of Slobodan Milošević's failed propaganda attempt to mythologize the new Serbian hero".[8] A parallel is drawn to Vladimir Trifunović, the commander of the Varaždin barracks who refused to have his men killed in a needless fight and surrendered to Croatian Army, leaving large quantities of arms and many fully functional T-55 tanks. He was trialed and sentenced by Serb military courts to 11 years for treason,[8] but pardoned two years later and compensated for imprisonment.[9]

Despite Tepić's sacrifice, Croatian forces captured over 100 T-55 tanks, many Armoured personnel carriers and other weapons and ammunition from YPA's Bjelovar objects, which is the largest number of captured tanks during the war, except those captured in Varaždin.[10][11]

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ Forgotten Hero from Povlen ("Politika", 30 April 2013)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c .
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Antun Tus, Rat u Sloveniji i Hrvatskoj


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